World Conference Against Racism - WCAR 2001
Source: The Zeleza Post
For a massive majority in Brazilian society, racism just doesn't exist. For many blacks, too. But, more fantastic than that: At the same time it is invisible, it is naturally practiced by the majority of the white population. And they don't even notice what they are doing. By Italo Ramos. [see more]
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From August 31st through September 8, 2001, the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was held in Durban, South Africa, with the attendance of numerous government representatives and delegates from NGOs and other organizations.

Over 3,000 NGO delegates from around the world converged in Durban to make their struggles and the injustices afflicting their regions and countries known to the world. Prior to the Conference, a Youth Summit and the NGO Forum were held in the same city.

Both WCAR delegates and participants at the NGO Forum faced the challenge of finding common ground on a host of sensitive issues connected with racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia, and achieving consensus to draw up their respective Declarations and Plans of Action. Governments came face to face with
a number of people who have been direct victims of racism and injustice, who did not hesitate to communicate to their delegates the pressing nature of the matters under discussion.

Controversies arose throughout the Conference over how certain issues, such as the Middle East conflict, indigenous rights, and the Holocaust, were to be treated. As the event came to a close (with Israel and the United States withdrawing their delegations), a declaration was signed which evidences a general concern over human diversity, its richness, its conflicts and potential solutions. The declaration includes conclusions on each issue on the agenda, the identification of slavery and the slave trade as a "crime against humanity", and theestablishment of a programme of action adhered to by the participants.

Groups that suffer racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related forms of intolerance were also identified, including Africans and people of African descent, Asians and Asian descendants, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, women, children, Roma, and people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The main issues discussed were:

- Slavery and the slave trade;
- Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers;
- The impact of multiple forms of discrimination against women. Gender and racism;
- Discrimination on the basis of caste;
- Indigenous peoples;
- The withdrawal of the US and Israel.

Following the Conference, several events have been organized by both the United Nations and NGOs and other organizations, with the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the resolutions adopted at Durban.

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Official web site

NGO Forum and Youth Summit

NGO Forum web site

WCAR NGO Forum Declaration

Youth Summit Declaration and Plan of Action

United Nations information

NGLS Roundup 82, November 2001 (United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS))

Racism and Racial Discrimination

Follow-up to the WCAR

Roundup 99, January 2003 - Racism and WCAR: Fifty-Seventh Session of the General Assembly (United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS))

Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 21 March 2003 (OHCHR)

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance - Decision 2002/270 ECOSOC (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)

Anti-Durban Syndrome? (International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR))

Preventing racial discrimination crucial in the struggle against genocide (OHCHR)

Implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (OHCHR)

Affirmative action policies (Choike)

Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (High Commissioner on Human Rights - UNHCHR)

Workshop on affirmative action policies in Latin American and the Caribbean (International Council for Adult Education (ICAE))

Regional meetings

NGOs Forum of the Americas for Diversity and Pluralism (

Asia-Pacific NGO Movement for WCAR

NGOs meetings (HRI)

Housing rights

African descendant communities and housing rights (Choike)

The slave trade

The difference between black Brazil and black U.S. (The Zeleza Post)

Book: African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean (The Zeleza Post)

The wider historical context of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade (Pambazuka)

Transatlantic Slave Trade (The Slave Route) (UNESCO)

2004: Slavery Abolition Year (UNESCO)

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